During a meeting of the Petitions Committee, a local community representative from the Zgorzelec region said that the closure of Turow in 2030 "seems a reasonable proposal that is acceptable to the residents of the Zgorzelec district and the employees of the Turow complex." However, the representative of the European Commission stressed that in order for the region to receive funds from the Just Transition Fund, it must present a credible transformation program assuming decarbonization by 2030.
On December 2 2021, during the meeting of the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament in Brussels, two petitions on the Turow case were considered again. The first was filed in 2019, on behalf of the Liberec Region, and concerns the danger of loss of drinking water in the region due to the expansion of the Turow lignite mine. The second petition was filed in 2020, on behalf of the Stowarzyszenie Rozwoju Innowacyjności Energetycznej (Association for the Development of Energy Innovation) in Zgorzelec, signed by residents of the region, is against the immediate closure of the mine.
Turów still takes water from its neighbors
Vaclav Židek, representing the Liberec Region, pointed out that the situation regarding the impact of the mines on the Czech territory has not changed since the petition was submitted. He stressed that the drinking water resources for the region's inhabitants are still under threat and the groundwater level has been falling for a long time. In 2020 alone, it dropped eight meters. He also stressed other risks from the quarry: emissions, light pollution, noise, and water loss in the landscape.
"Therefore, I would like to ask the Commission to do two things," Židek said, "We request that they appeal to the CJEU to increase the penalty so that it is effective and there is no further violation of fundamental legal principles in the EU and possibly find another way to end the violation of the Court's regulation and discuss the petition in the EP plenary."
Turow closure in 2030 is a reasonable proposal for residents
"The false alternative of closing the mine immediately or keeping it open until 2044 is a social engineering device designed to inflame a political conflict of global importance. It is a repetition of old mistakes. As representatives of the local community, we believe that the only real dilemma concerns the pace of change. The year 2030 seems to be a reasonable proposal, which is acceptable for the inhabitants of Zgorzelec County and employees of Turów complex, provided that a rational plan for the future is presented," said Agnieszka Spirydowicz, the president of Zgorzelecki Klaster Rozwoju OZE i Efektywności Energetycznej (ZKlaster) (Zgorzelec Cluster of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Development (ZKlaster) ), “In our opinion, thanks to the efforts of local communities, with the support of the Commission, the already prepared plan for transformation of the lignite basin, including Turów area, can be implemented. Furthermore, the transformation of nearby coal regions in Saxony and the Czech Republic should also begin. Only then will it be possible to speak of a just transformation and not a transformation in which some gain at the expense of others.”
No credible transformation program means no money from the Just Transition Fund
"European Commission rejects the claim that Bogatynia and Turów should benefit from Just Transformation Fund. Because the aim is not to support the project itself but to support those regions which face serious economic and social challenges resulting from the transformation of the economy towards carbon neutrality and decarbonisation," said Paweł Olechnowicz from the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO).” So there has to be a serious and credible plan for this transformation and it has to happen by 2030. These conditions are not met. First, the Polish minister extended the Turów mine's concession until 2044. [...] Secondly, a new power unit in the Turów power plant has just been opened. So, we don't see any of the necessary conditions to allow the Just Transition Fund to be made available to this region. [...] The absence of a credible transformation program is the absence of funding from the Just Transition Fund.
Paweł Olechnowicz also gave a positive example of Eastern Wielkopolska, which is to completely abandon coal by 2030, encouraging the Zgorzelec region to go the same way.
Martin Hojsik, on the other hand, stressed that Poland must stick to the principles of the European Union. It cannot demand money from the European Union and, at the same time, violate its laws.
Tatjana Ždanoka reported that both petitions would remain open. It also asked the European Commission to update its responses.